Cristiano Ronaldo carries Portugal past Armenia; Faroe Islands stun Greece
Cristiano Ronaldo became the European Championship’s all-time top scorer by giving Portugal a 1-0 victory over Armenia, while world champion Germany could only beat Gibraltar 4-0 on Friday.
Portugal captain Ronaldo broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute to take his tally across Euro finals and qualifying to 23 goals. Denmark’s Jon Dahl Tomasson and Turkey’s Hakan Sukur had previously scored 22 goals.
Faroe Islands recorded a shock 1-0 victory over Greece in Athens to leave Claudio Ranieri’s side slumped at the bottom of Euro 2016 qualifying Group F.
Although the Faroe Islands had defeated fellow minnows Gibraltar 4-1 in March, a last competitive victory came against Estonia in June 2011 and they managed just one point from the 10 World Cup 2014 qualifying matches. Lars Olsen’s men, ranked 187th in the world rankings, pulled off arguably the biggest result in the association’s short history – having joined FIFA officially in July 1988 – with a goal from veteran forward Joan Simun Edmundsson, who had spells at Newcastle and Gateshead, on 61 minutes.
The embarrassing defeat for Greece, who won the European Championships a decade ago and had performed well at the World Cup in Brazil, will leave more question marks over the future of Italian Ranieri, who was already under fire after losing at home to Northern Ireland.
Romania replaced Northern Ireland at the top of Group F following a 2-0 win over Michael O’Neill’s men in Bucharest with a second-half brace from Paul Papp.
Hungary are third, two points behind Northern Ireland, after they beat Finland 1-0 in Budapest with a late goal from Zoltan Gera, the former West Brom and Fulham midfielder.
The victory sees Fernando Santos’s side get their qualification campaign back on track to move a point behind Denmark, who came from behind to win 3-1 in Serbia, but have played one match more.
Serbia made a flying start through Zoran Tosic after only four minutes, but Nicklas Bendtner (61) equalised in the second half, with Simon Kjaer (63) quickly adding a second. Wolfsburg forward Bendtner, who left Arsenal in the summer, added a third with five minutes left.
Temuri Ketsbaia’s reign as Georgia coach looked to have ended after Group D leaders Poland romped to a 4-0 victory in their Euro 2016 qualifier in Tbilisi.
Ketsbaia – who had spells in England with Newcastle and Wolves as well as playing for Scottish club Dundee – declared he would resign no matter what the final outcome at the Dinamo Arena, after just one win in their opening matches left Georgia with little hope of qualification. Poland, though, remain very much on course for booking a place for the finals in France, having also defeated World Cup winners Germany in their last outing.
The visitors made the breakthrough at the start of the second half, when Kamil Glik (51) headed in from a corner, before two goals in as many minutes from Grzegorz Krychowiak (71) and Sebastian Mila (73) ended any hopes of a comeback. Arkadiusz Milik added a fourth in stoppage time.
Germany are in second place after beating Gibraltar 4-0.
Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller (11, 29) helped himself to a brace, with Mario Gotze (38) adding a third before the break. Gibraltar substitute Yogen Santos (67) scored an own goal in the second half as the world champions coasted back to winning ways.
Scotland are also on seven points, along with the Republic of Ireland after a wonderful second-half strike by Shaun Maloney (74) gave the Scots a 1-0 win in a fiercely-contested encounter between the two countries at Celtic Park.
Gibraltar, meanwhile, are planted firmly at the bottom of the table, with four straight defeats, no goals scored and 21 conceded.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.